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Stealing home

by YES! Staff

On Monday, the Winston-Salem City Council held a public hearing to get citizens’ feedback on a proposal from Winston-Salem Dash owner Billy Prim to have the city invest an additional $15.7 million in the construction of the downtown ballpark. No vote would be taken on Monday regarding the measure, which would bring the city’s total investment in the ballpark to nearly $28 million. Due in part to the great number of citizens who signed up to speak, the public hearing will be continued until Wednesday, after which the city council is expected to vote on whether or not to loan Prim, the entrepreneur who co-founded Blue Rhino and Primo Water, the funds to complete the $40 million baseball stadium. Wednesday’s vote will speak volumes about the reason council members ran for office in the first place and will greatly impact their chances of being re-elected this fall. Prim said he and his development partners were “on the verge of doing something great” but things changed. “I’m here because I don’t have another alternative,” he said. Rumors have swirled that Filipowski’s divorce from his wife — who just happens to be Prim’s sister-in-law — led to Prim’s decision to buy out his former partner. “I hope we haven’t bet the financial future of our community based on somebody’s being married or not married,” NC Rep. Dale Folwell said. Some of the speakers pointed fingers at the city council for not doing its due diligence to ensure Prim and his partners had a sound business plan before construction began. “This issue is about personal responsibility,” said Nathan Tabor, president of the Forsyth County Young Republicans. “If this was a private business you would be bankrupt and you would’ve cost everyone their jobs.” Joyce Cralick, a Kernersville resident, summed up the concerns of many area citizens. “I’m a small business owner. Times are tough and money has tightened up. I never thought of coming here to ask you to fund my business,” she said. “When I get a loan, I have to mortgage my home.” All those who spoke on behalf of organizations or neighborhood coalitions expressed support for the city investing an additional$15.7 million in the downtown ballpark. But organizations andcoalitions don’t cast votes, and in an election year that sees Joinesand seven of eight council members running for re-election, a populistmove would be a wise choice.

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